Friday, February 23, 2024

Bridgeworthy: 30 Minute Drive to “Tuscany” and a Five Star Resort

Most can agree that living in Coronado is a dream that few people get to realize. However, most Coronado locals will agree that it’s absolutely necessary to “escape the island” from time to time. You know, to clear your mind, be anonymous, mute the city noise (read: vehicle/air traffic, gas leaf blowers, loud neighbors, etc.) and most importantly, to relax, be refreshed and get rejuvenated.

Coronado to Fairmont Grand Del Mar
It’s about a 30 minute drive from Coronado to Fairmont Grand Del Mar. Source: Google Maps

Last week, your (very fortunate) Bridgeworthy Traveler spent two peaceful nights and three glorious days at Fairmont Grand Del Mar – a short 30 minute drive over the bridge. Not only did we enter the “old-world” of a Tuscan castle, but the highlight of the experience was the exemplary service of the resort staff – never have we felt more left alone while being completely taken care of during every moment of our stay.  A five-star resort perfectly coupled with five-star service.

One of the four pools located on the property. Source: FRHI

Here is the formal description of the resort which opened in 2007:

Set amidst Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve, this 249-room luxury San Diego resort captures the elegance and comfort of an old-world Mediterranean estate with an enviable Southern California locale. Its design honors the indelible style of visionary architect Addison Mizner (1872 – 1933) who drew his inspiration from Spain’s palaces, France’s sun-washed coastal retreats and Florence’s decorative arts to define the revered communities of Palm Beach and Boca Raton.

Mizner’s aesthetic is especially well suited, given San Diego’s warm climate and the community’s affinity for outdoor living. Combined with the resort’s impeccable service and unrivaled amenities – including an award-winning spa, championship golf course, acclaimed restaurants and boutique shopping – it’s really no surprise Fairmont Grand Del Mar is TripAdvisor’s #1 Luxury Hotel in the United States.

Fairmont Grand Del Mar
The entrance puts the “grand” in Fairmont Grand Del Mar. Source: FRHI

The valet smiled as he welcomed us to the resort. It would be the first of many staff encounters that continued to welcome us, care for us and allow us to relax during our stay. Somehow, at check-in, the staff member knew our last names and for the rest of the time onsite, we were greeted by name throughout the stay.

Fairmont Grand Del Mar
Sweet smelling flowers welcome guests when they enter the main lobby.
Fairmont Grand Del Mar
The spacious lobby was designed with beautiful marble flooring and marble columns that invited you to explore your way to the balcony to enjoy the view of the grounds.
Fairmont Grand Del Mar is only one of three San Diego hotels that has the coveted Forbes 5-star rating.

It’s hard to explain five-star service when you have never experienced it – kind of like riding in First Class vs. Coach (note, we have only flown coach but hope to change that someday). The difference is in the way staff members put you completely at ease as they care for you, gently say hello to you on the grounds or how they appear at just the right moment when you desire something. Here are just a few of the awards Fairmont Grand Del Mar has collected:

  • Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Resort (Resort, Restaurant and Spa)
  • AAA Five Diamond Award (Resort & Restaurant)
  • TripAdvisor’s #1 Luxury Hotel in California
  • #1 Luxury Hotel in the United States, TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice
  • Best Hotels in the United States, U.S. News Travel
  • Top Restaurant for Service, Zagat
  • Top 50 Private Ranges, Golf Ranges Association of America
  • Top 10 Golf Resorts in Southern California, Links Insider
  • Best Ballroom, Smart Meetings’ Smart Star Awards, Gold Winner

The award list is much longer, but you get the idea.

Once we checked in we turned around to gather our bags and had forgotten that another valet had whisked them away to our room as we entered the lobby. The staff person that checked us in escorted us to our room and with the delicate care of a 4×100 runner, passing the baton, handed us over to the valet who explained all the features of the room, placed our luggage exactly where we wanted it to go, said “enjoy your stay,” and then silently left the room.

Bedroom looking towards the hallway and the bathroom. We noted that their was absolutely no hallway noise due to the thoughtful layout of the room.
Fairmont Grand Del Mar
The view from our balcony looking towards the courtyard.
grand del mar room
It felt like we were in Tuscany. Loved the open space and a uninterrupted blue sky.

The first order of business was to check out the pool…the adults-only relaxation pool! The adult pool not only keeps kids from yelling or cannon-balling in your direction, but also strongly encourages adults not to speak on their phones. Scroll and swipe away, but please, save the calls for later. Even though it was April, the weather was warmer than Coronado since it’s a few miles inland – great weather to soak up the sun or enjoy a refreshing swim.

View of the adults-only relaxation pool from above.
Another view of the pool.
Next to the pool is a HUGE secluded spa.  Great place to warm-up or read your book in the comfy red lounges.
Hiking is a great way to decompress and make room for eating at pool side, in the room and of course, fine dining!

We asked the concierge about some local hikes that wouldn’t require getting in the car. She said that the “Shaw Trail” is a single track, 1.6 mile (3.2 roundtrip), easy to moderate hike that would take us by the pond, golf course and valley filled with wildflowers. More importantly, it would help us work up an appetite for our dinner later that evening.

Yes, this really happened right in the beginning of our hike.
Grand Del Mar Golf Course
The Grand Golf Club is adjacent to the resort.  Source:  FRHI
Wildflowers were everywhere due to the wetter Winter that his San Diego earlier in the year.
Living in Coronado really makes you appreciate hiking in open spaces. Yes, Coronado has the open ocean and the bay, but not really any “hiking trails”, unless you count that one “hill” from Adella Ave to 8th Street. 🙂

After the hike, we got cleaned up so that we could enjoy reading and a nap before dinner. If you enjoy a good detective book, be sure to check out “The Wrong Side of Goodbye” by Michael Connelly. It’s a great read and has a few scenes that take place in Barrio Logan and Coronado.

The inside dining area of the Amaya. Patio dining is also available. Source: FRHI
The outside dining area of the Amaya restaurant. Source: FRHI

That evening, we dined at the Amaya restaurant which is on the property a short walk from the lobby.  Immediately we were welcomed by Michael Ambrose, the manager of the restaurant. After some light discussions about the restaurant and his favorite things on the menu, he turned us over to our server, Joseph. Both Michael and Joseph set the tone for the fine dining evening that we were about to experience.

We started with the artichoke & peperonata spreads with house made focaccia, fennel cracker along with a bottle of Paul Lato pinot noir. Adding to the appetizer adventure, we were blown away by the pan-seared scallops with vanilla scented cauliflower, seasonal mushrooms and crispy pork belly – a must order!

Artichoke & Peperonata Spreads with Housemade Focaccia, Fennel Cracker

For our main, we enjoyed the prime ribeye steak with cognac peppercorn jus and the fettuccine carbonara house pepper bacon, free range eggs, parmesan cheese. The flavors were spectacular and in the perfect delicate balance to each other.

Since we completed our hike earlier in the day, we earned dessert. Joseph recommended the dessert profiteroles with caramel chocolate atop butterscotch pudding. Foodies be warned, you will compare future dining experiences to the Amaya for years to come.

dinner appetizer amaya
Pan Seared Scallops: Vanilla Scented Cauliflower, Seasonal Mushrooms, Crispy Pork Belly
So simple, but so important.

As we entered our room after dinner, I noticed a feature on the inside wall that I missed on the way in – a button to alert staff to give you privacy or to request housekeeping.  I’ve never like the privacy door hanger for fear an immature guest would turn them around and ruin a morning of sleeping in – of course, this ingenious technology would ensure morning free from any intrusions…besides of course, room service.

Once we slept off last night’s dinner, we decided to order a few breakfast items to enjoy on our balcony. When room service arrives, they bring you a morning paper along with a table to put right on our balcony. The café lattes were made just right, but the standout that morning was the “black and blue” French toast:

Room service at the Grand Del Mar.
Behold, the black and blue French toast with granola (black berries and blue berries).

Of course, Fairmont Grand Del Mar has a fully equipped fitness center, but who has time to workout when there is a spa treatment in a few hours?

The “recovery” room after your spa treatment. Source: FRHI

The Spa at Fairmont Grand Del Mar is the definition of serenity. The spa staff greeted us with a warm “hello” and guided us into the men’s and women’s lounge to change for our treatment. The 60-minute massage was customized to our needs after a short series of questions by our two masseuses. Their hands were as magical as the peaceful music wafting in the background. The scented oils helped to calm our muscles (and spirits) while our stress levels were reduced to more manageable numbers  – it was divine. For a complete list of spa services and pricing, click here.

Many times on our walk, the resort looked to be dancing with the natural elements that surround it. It is a well hidden gem that needs to be discovered.

After more time at the pool, we took a walk one last time around the grounds of the resort. Not only is there a great expanse of open space around the resort, but the natural elements surrounding it seem to flow in perfect rhythm. Part of the harmony we recovered was absolutely due to the physical surroundings of the grounds. Of course the room, dining, pool and spa were blissful, but there was something about the location of this resort and how it combined a “natural” element to the experience that really helped us to escape to “Tuscany”, if only for a few days.

Learn more about their Mother’s Day brunch, tea and golf offerings (May 14, 2017).

Get more information on the Fairmont Grand Del Mar room pricing, dining, spa and golf. Currently, they are offering a “third night free” promotion.

Fairmont Grand Del Mar
300 Grand Del Mar Ct.
San Diego, CA 92130
(858) 314-2000


Related Article:   Grand Del Mar regains Forbes’ highest rating

Thanks to Fairmont Grand Del Mar staff for the incredible experience and to Claire Kunzman of Anything But Advertising for arranging the media stay and activities.


Bridgeworthy Travel & Experience
Bridgeworthy Travel & Experience
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